Micromet test results promising

August 15, 2008|By Bloomberg News

BETHESDA - Micromet Inc.'s experimental cancer treatment shrank tumors in people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a study that might lead to a new approach in tackling malignant diseases.

The medicine, called blinatumomab, caused complete or partial tumor regression in all seven patients who received the highest dosage in tests by German researchers, according to data published in Science magazine. The findings were first presented at a medical meeting in Switzerland in June.

Blinatumomab is a protein that binds immune cells with cancer-fighting properties to tumor cells, releasing toxins that destroy the disease more effectively at the site. It is the first time scientists have found a way to link the so-called T cells to cancer cells in the patient, Patrick Baeuerle, Micromet's chief scientific officer, said in a telephone interview.

"An effective response rate of seven out of seven is remarkable," said Jason Kantor at RBC Capital Markets. "If this type of response rate can be replicated at these durations, it could be a very effective therapy."

Micromet, based in Bethesda, wants to enter a market dominated by Biogen Idec Inc. and Genentech Inc.'s Rituxan, a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment that generated $2.29 billion in U.S. sales in 2007. Roche Holding AG is the majority owner of Genentech.

The tests, conducted at various locations across Germany, are part of the first of three sets of trials needed to gain regulatory approval. They were funded jointly by Micromet and its Gaithersburg partner MedImmune, the biotechnology company bought by London-based AstraZeneca PLC last year.

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